Mental part 13 year old

Have a 13 year old with good stuff. Working with outstanding pitching coach and spot on in bull pen & lessons. Throws mid 60’s; 2 & 4 seam FB, great change up and developing curve. Problem at gametime; pitched well in scrimmage but fell apart first game. Not too much damage, 2 runs in two innings. No hits but 3 walks and lots of balls in the dirt. Seems to be a recurring theme. Requested coach not pitch him during spring & let him work on fundamentals with pitching coach. Thought it would be a good opportunity to concentrate on position play and lessen pressure. Asked him after game why he thought so many balls in the dirt & his response was couldn’t find release point. Pitching coach says outstanding stuff and perfect mechanics. I think he has a problem with jitters. Should I just leave it alone and let him work his way through it?

If a pitcher whose mechanics are otherwise sound is having a problem finding his release point, it’s often a timing issue. If he keeps throwing the ball in the dirt, it’s usually because he’s releasing the ball too soon. (Conversely, if he holds onto the ball too long and releases it late the pitch will usually come there high.) He may be overthrowing or rushinbg his delivery, and so the thing to do is work on slowing it down somewhat. I remember when Allie Reynolds was having such a problem with rushing his delivery , and Ed Lopat taught him to slow it down and pace himself better.
The kid would also do well to work on a changeup. I’d suggest the palm ball; this was the first change I acquired, and a very good one it was too. Often this will resolve the timing problem. And make sure he follows through and finishes his pitches. 8) :baseballpitcher:

[quote=“Zita Carno”]If a pitcher whose mechanics are otherwise sound is having a problem finding his release point, it’s often a timing issue. If he keeps throwing the ball in the dirt, it’s usually because he’s releasing the ball too soon. (Conversely, if he holds onto the ball too long and releases it late the pitch will usually come there high.) He may be overthrowing or rushing his delivery, and so the thing to do is work on slowing it down somewhat. I remember when Allie Reynolds was having such a problem with rushing his relivery, and Ed Lopat taught him to slow it down and pace himself better.
The kid would also do well to work on a changeup. I’d suggest the palm ball; this was the first change I acquired, and a very good one it was too. Often this will resolve the timing problem. And make sure he follows through and finishes his pitches. 8) :baseballpitcher:[/quote]

Makes sense; pitching coach teaches him “slow, slow, finish fast”. His wind is very methodical, sounds like timing at the end. I’m concerned that my contuning to talk about it may make things worse. Do I offer observations or let him work his way through it? He’s got a really good change; PC taught him really loose grip with last three fingers (not a circle). Started out having him throw a stihorophone cup. PC gunned it and it’s around 12 mph slower than 4S FB. It has a tremendous break at the end, arm motion looks like a FB coming at you. He’s been working on this one for 9 months and has down pretty well.

I wouldn’t belabor the point. You might want to do what my pitching coach of long ago used to do when teaching me a new and off-the-beaten-path delivery. When I was learning the slider, he showed me the off-center grip he used, and he demonstrated throwing the pitch—first in slow motion, then at normal speed as he would do when actually throwing the pitch. Then he handed me the ball and said quietly, “Go ahead—try it.” While I was familiarizing myself with it, he watched me and made a few mental motes, and if an adjustment needed to be made he would do it—usually something about the grip (I was a natural, true sidearmer with a consistent release point). The rest, he let me work it out myself. I did, and I had myself a killer strikeout pitch. 8)

Sound advice, thanks!

This issue sounds largely mental to me - like he’s trying to be careful which is making his delivery slower and more methodical.

I’d try speeding him up a bit. Think about that “slow-slow-fast” teach. By the time he gets to the second “slow” and it’s time to get it in gear, he’s on one foot with no momentum to help him get going. I suggest using the Hershiser drill to practice the timing of getting his hips moving towards home plate sooner and faster. Shoot for getting from first movement into foot plant in .95-1.05 seconds. Give him time to get comfortable with this and then judge. If he’s doing ok (or, hopefully, better), put him back on the mound in games to start developing the mental game. You can always precede this by having a batter stand in the box during bullpens to make them more game-like.

Thanks Roger, I like that idea. I will talk to his pitching coach and ask him to incorporate drill in his training. I think he may have taken the “slow slow” part a little too literally. I’ve had some concerns about pace, seems to slow it down during games.

You want your son to get to where he trusts his mechanics and feels comfortable letting it rip. Slowing doing usually injects extra time into the delivery and that’s time to mess something up. One analogy that kids can relate to is that of riding a bike - it’s easy to maintain balance when your going faster. But go too slow and you get all wobbly.

Keep in mind I’m saying this blindly. I haven’t seen your son pitch so I could be off-base.

I’ll get some video this weekend at lesson and try to upload. Haven’t attempted before but will give it a try. Appreciate your imput.

Mike, that is great, it’s the best way for us to give you some solid advice.

Mike,
I went through the same thing with my son oddly enough when he was 13. He was asked to pitch for the premiere team in our area. The coach made it known that he was the #1 pitcher.

This pressure to pitch well made him struggle with his mental edge. He started trying to spot every pitch causing his mechanics to suffer which in turn caused a drop in velocity, then loss of location. Luckily the coach and I spotted the problem almost immediately and were able to sit down ad ensure him that it was ok to not be perfect every time. 

 We skipped his next start and had him throw against an average team that was no real competition. Before the start we made sure he was on track with his mechanics and told him to go throw ad have fun. That game he gave up one hit, no walks, and struck out 8. His confidence was back.The next start was a very competitive team and he was able to keep that mental edge and won that game as well, allowing 1 run in 6 innings.

 The bottom line is that what he needed was a confidence boost, learn to relax and trust his mechanics, and finally assurance that you can't be pefect every time on the hill.

I agree, appreciate the imput. Haven’t forgot about posting video, had to skip lesson due to playing this weekend so hope to post next weekend. Pitched Saturday against average competition, excellent outing. 2 IP 1 UER, 1 hit, 1 BB, 4 K’s. Pitched aginst majors on Sunday, crusised first two innings, gave up nothing. Third started with walk and then error with 2nd hitter, all downhill from there. Looked uptight, throwing fastball in the dirt. Ironically off speed pitches still had good control. I believe it is a confidence issue and also believe validity to Roger’s point of picking up the pace.

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[quote=“Roger”]You want your son to get to where he trusts his mechanics and feels comfortable letting it rip. Slowing doing usually injects extra time into the delivery and that’s time to mess something up. One analogy that kids can relate to is that of riding a bike - it’s easy to maintain balance when your going faster. But go too slow and you get all wobbly.

Keep in mind I’m saying this blindly. I haven’t seen your son pitch so I could be off-base.[/quote]

Roger, Finally got some video of him up. Sorry it took so long.

Got some video up for you to look at, sorry it took so long.

My preference would be to get his hips moving forward sooner and to get into more of a “front hip leading the way” position. The Hershiser drill is a good way to get a feel for the timing of that.

I’d also have him start with the knees and waist bent more. In your first video, compare the height of his head to the cross beam in the wall. His head starts well above the beam. In fact, his shoulders start just above the beam. Then, as he starts to stride, he drops down and hunches forward (toward 3B). If he starts with the knees and waist bent more, he’ll turn that sideways and vertical motion into forward motion to help him release the ball closer to the batter and possibly throw harder.

EDIT: Meant to point out that his head and shoulders start above the cross-beam and then he drops to the point that the top of his head drops below the beam. That’s too much vertical movement for me. In addition to misdirecting energy, it also makes him slower to the plate.

[quote=“Roger”]My preference would be to get his hips moving forward sooner and to get into more of a “front hip leading the way” position. The Hershiser drill is a good way to get a feel for the timing of that.

I’d also have him start with the knees and waist bent more. In your first video, compare the height of his head to the cross beam in the wall. His head starts well above the beam. In fact, his shoulders start just above the beam. Then, as he starts to stride, he drops down and hunches forward (toward 3B). If he starts with the knees and waist bent more, he’ll turn that sideways and vertical motion into forward motion to help him release the ball closer to the batter and possibly throw harder.[/quote]

Thanks for the imput Roger, that will give us something to work on. I agree he needs to be in a more athletic posture. Do you see anything that would cause issues with fastballs in the dirt, seems to happen a lot. More velocity would be great, he seems to compare favorably with most kids in his age group around here (although some faster). Turned 13 a month ago, 5’3" 110 lbs. Clocked fb at 63-66 in session from video. Has a great change up about 12 mph under fb with lots of movement. Has developing pitch PC say’s is really a “slurve” (curve grip, out front release with a late break), a little faster than change up. He has good control of offspeed but really seems to have a problem with the fastball in the dirt. In earlier post you discussed possibility of increasing tempo, just wondering what you see in the video in relation to the tempo (up to the point of getting hips moving forward sooner). Thank you very much for the imput.

Have you tried to over-exaggerate throwing high with the fastball? I’ve seen this work with in & out where you set the catcher up way inside or way outside to show the pitcher he can hit the spot. Maybe start by forcing him to throw FBs out of the zone high and work him back down from there.

Coach K,
Work on that some in sessions, does pretty well most of the time. May be worth doing more often. Sessions normally go well, mostly game time. Seems like he tenses up. May be partially learning new pitch with out front release. Has said before he has hard time finding release point after games.